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Cops: EMT shoots self after domestic incident triggers standoff

Fairfield Citizen-News
Updated 12:20 pm, Monday, February 25, 2013

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  • Fairfield police along with the town's ESU (Emergency Services Unit) as well as Bridgeport's ESU and officers from Norwalk on scene at a standoff at the Sunny Ridge Condominiums on Sunny Ridge Avenue in Fairfield, Conn. on Saturday February 23, 2013. Photo: Christian Abraham / Connecticut Post
    Fairfield police along with the town's ESU (Emergency Services Unit) as well as Bridgeport's ESU and officers from Norwalk on scene at a standoff at the Sunny Ridge Condominiums on Sunny Ridge Avenue in Fairfield, Conn. on Saturday February 23, 2013. Photo: Christian Abraham

 

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A 40-year-old emergency medical technician fatally shot himself after a three-and-a-half-hour standoff with a heavily armed police unit behind a Sunnyridge Avenue condo complex late Saturday, an incident that police said began earlier in the night with a dispute between the man and his girlfriend.

Douglas Garni, 40, died late Saturday night from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the standoff with police behind his unit at Colonial Gardens Condominiums.

Police were called by Garni's girlfriend about 7:30 p.m. Saturday to report that a dispute between the two had turned physical, prompting her to take refuge at a nearby condo. Garni initially followed her to the other condo, but police said Monday his whereabouts were unclear afterward. He, however, apparently remained within the security perimeter set up around the complex when officers arrived on the scene.

The woman told officials that Garni had several firearms registered in his name that he kept in their condo.

On Sunday afternoon, neighbors said Garni had lived in the condo complex for at least a decade and had recently been president of the condo association.

Police Sgt. Suzanne Lussier said there were at least two guns found in his condo -- a handgun and a long, "assault-style" gun. Both were registered in Garni's name.

Garni also had two dogs, and was often seen walking with them around the white, picket-fenced condo complex.

Prior to his current girlfriend, Garni had been married, according to legal documents. In July 2007, he and his ex-wife were charged with disorderly conduct. A brief check of state court records did not show any convictions from the arrest.

Lussier said Garni and his current girlfriend had no prior history of domestic violence.

A neighbor, Patricia Ford, said she didn't know Garni well, but he seemed like "a really nice man who was seen faithfully walking his dog and speaking to residents on a regular basis."

Garni was a licensed EMT, according to the state of Connecticut's licensing website. His license was issued in 2009 and was active at the time of his death.

On Saturday, officers arriving at the scene set up a perimeter around the Garni's condo, and evacuated residents from several nearby units as a safety precaution.

Fairfield and Bridgeport police dispatched their Emergency Services Units to the scene, and police negotiators from Fairfield and Norwalk also were sent to try to contact Garni. Fairfield firefighters and AMR Ambulance personnel were also on scene during the standoff in case their services were needed.

Negotiators were unsuccessful in their attempts to contact Garni by phone and public-address system over the course of the standoff.

About 11 p.m., a single gunshot was heard from a wooded area just north of Garni's condo, police said, and Emergency Services Unit officers quickly found his body there.

"The standoff is over now," Police Chief Gary MacNamara said at about 11:15 p.m. Saturday. "This individual, unfortunately, chose to end his life."

Police detectives and personnel from the state Medical Examiner's Office remained on the scene until about 2 a.m. Sunday to complete their investigation of the incident.